UK is “lacking in digital manufacturing technology” warns Make UK

The director of technology, sustainability and innovation of the Manufacturers’ Organisation (Make UK, formerly known as the EEF) said that the UK is “lacking in digital manufacturing technology” and asked that better infrastructure, currently available “only in the north-west of the UK”, be “rolled out everywhere”.

At a press conference on Friday, Tim Figures discussed Make UK’s ongoing digital transformation in the aftermath of Brexit, emphasising that technology and data are “the link that may help us through the change”.

According to Figures, the consequences of Brexit, such as “increased costs of trade” and a “tightening labour market” are some of the key issues that the UK manufacturing industry faces at the moment, along with the strive for more sustainable manufacturing.

Also speaking at the conference were Rob Sinfield, vice-president of product at Sage, and Mike Davis, managing director at Pukka Pad.

Sinfield helped present the findings of a study conducted by Sage and IDG, which found that 73% of British companies using discrete manufacturing methods have at least one workload or application currently hosted in the cloud. The research also found that 60% of UK manufacturing businesses found it “challenging, or extremely challenging, to introduce cloud computing infrastructure or applications into their operations”.

As manufacturers aim to impress and meet the increasing needs of customers, they opt to invest in incorporating cutting-edge technologies. According to the Sage-IDG survey, 54% of UK respondents currently adopted or planned to adopt AI/machine learning. Other technologies which were popular with UK manufacturers were advanced robots (51%), IoT (42%), 3D printing (37%), and automation (36%).

“The technology industry has a role to play,” said Sinfield. “China, Taiwan, and India are becoming more expensive in manufacturing so the UK will have to step up.”

These are somewhat overcharging concerns in the manufacturing world, but at the moment manufacturing is being affected in by the coronavirus, which has seen factories in China shut down to curtail the spread of the virus, which has then impacted upon the technology industry.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.